BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) – India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hopes the keen tussle between his young team and hosts England will produce an exciting Champions Trophy final on Sunday.
"England are a very good side and they know the conditions well. We have also played well in a tournament where you only face the best of teams," Dhoni said at Edgbaston, where the final will take place, on Saturday.
"So it will be a good contest and very good for the spectators too. We as cricketers want to entertain the crowd. And that is how it is going to be."
The dream final, worth $2 million to the winners, will be a mouth-watering clash between the two best teams in the eight-nation tournament.
India, winners of the World Cup at home in 2011, proved worthy of their number one ranking by cruising to the final with four straight wins -- the last three by emphatic eight-wicket margins.
Second-ranked England, looking for their first major one-day title, made it to the final with three wins out of four, including a seven-wicket defeat of South Africa in the semi-final at The Oval in London.
India's squad contains just three players -- Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself -- who played in the World Cup final two years ago, but the captain insisted his team was not under pressure for the big game.
"We will prepare for the final the same way we prepared for the semi-final, or the game against Pakistan," he said. "It's a new game now. What happened in the past does not matter."
Dhoni brushed aside worries that bad weather -- rain has been forecast for the entire day on Sunday -- could ruin the final in front of a packed Edgbaston.
"We will wait for tomorrow to see how the weather goes, we can't go by the forecast," he said. "In our semi-final against Sri Lanka, they said we may not even get a 20-over game and we ended up playing a full match."
The Indian captain said the first 10 overs of the innings, whether bowling or batting, could determine how the final shaped up.
"If you get off to a good start, you are able to put pressure on the middle order and then you can restrict the opposition from scoring freely," Dhoni said.
"Or if you are batting first and if you have wickets in hand, you can get those extra 20 or 25 runs in the end which could prove crucial. So I think the first 10 overs are very crucial either way."
India have banked on the success of the top-order, especially left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan, whose 332 runs in four matches have made him the competition's leading scorer.
Dhawan's scores of 114, 102 not out, 48 and 68, allied to valuable opening stands with Rohit Sharma, have fashioned India's comprehensive wins so far.
Dhoni said he expected Dhawan and company to continue their good form against an England attack led by versatile seamer James Anderson.
"England are a very good bowling unit, but we are excited that our top order has played, and done well, against some of the best bowlers in world cricket in this tournament," explained Dhoni.
"Our batsmen are well prepared to face the England bowlers. But, like in every game, they have to apply themselves. So we will wait and watch how it goes."